4 Activities for Outdoor Lovers in Southeast Michigan
We’re proud to be opening our latest treetop adventure course in Michigan’s Stony Creek Metropark. We’re surrounded by nearly 4,500 acres of sugar maple, beech and basswood, with trails ranging from purely rustic to those with elevated mountain bike platforms maintained by the Michigan Mountain Bike Association. The fishing on 500-acre Stony Creek Lake is outstanding (the state record crappie was caught there), and there are marked ski trails in winter.
It’s a stunning place.
We seek to build our adventure courses into communities of outdoor lovers and their intentional spaces. Stony Creek Metropark is just that, an amazing community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. We’re excited to join the ranks of awesome ways local residents can spend a weekend outdoors.
Here are some of our favorite places to get out, and get adventuring, near Rochester, Shelby Township and Detroit.
Take a Kayak Tour Through the Canals
We’ve mentioned these before, but they’re just too cool not to bring back when we have the chance.
Detroit’s Creekside neighborhood is sometimes called “the canal district” because of its network of canals connected to the Detroit River. Houses are built right up to the water, sometimes with parking for cars and boats side-by-side. Mostly built during the 1920s, the canals and manmade islands here were once the hotbed of prohibition-era alcohol smuggling.
Today, they are equal parts restored by man and reclaimed by nature, and a kayak trip through them shows a fantastic variety of scenery. You’ll paddle through tunnels of green foliage and pass right under busy streets.
Organize your tour with Detroit River Sports, and they’ll lead you around Harbor Island, Klenk Island, Fox Creek and Grayhaven and past the historic Fisher Mansion to a gorgeous spot to watch the sun go down behind the city skyline. Then you’ll paddle back to the marina, where a meal prepared by Coriander Kitchen and Farm awaits you.
Help Restore the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
The river, of course, is is the heart of the city, and it showcases the city’s rebirth. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the best place to see it, and one of the most beautiful wild places near any major city in the U.S. Just under 8 square miles, it’s jointly operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
During the years of the city’s massive industrial growth, it was a wasteland. Literally. Heavy dumping by local industries concentrated in the river and marshlands, leading to huge die-offs of migratory birds each spring. A once-thriving fishing industry shut down because the waters were too polluted to safely fish.
Today, the same spot is home to six thousand acres of beautiful islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront. Restoration and cleanup efforts have been so successful that there is now a hunting season in parts of the refuge. Some of those same waterfowl once nearly wiped out here are no so numerous that we need to control their populations. Residents participate in an annual “hawk watch” count raptors on the riverfront each fall. Last year, they found nearly 200,000.
Much of the refuge remains closed off except to conservation efforts, but those conservation efforts are led by locals. Get involved in restoration efforts, helping to rebuild habitat, count owls and other birds, and even teach local kids to fish in waters where that once wasn’t safe.
Stewardship is a core value here at Go Ape and we can’t wait to add our support.
Bike the Hines Park Trail on a Saturday
The 17.2-mile Hines Park Trail links a series of Wayne County’s best parks and recreation areas, as it parallels Edward Hines Drive on one side and the Rouge River close on the other. Water and restrooms are easy to find thanks to frequent stops. It’s a nice spot to bike any day of the week.
But on Saturdays in summer, the road itself is closed to motorized traffic, so cyclists, runners and inline skaters rule the space. It’s a fantastic opportunity to exercise in the open air and experience real speed on your bike in perfect safety, through beautiful country.
Spend a Day at Belle Isle Park
As home to the U.S. automotive industry, Detroit is never going to be purely natural. But some of its loveliest features show how the urban and natural worlds can weave together. Nowhere is this truer than the famous Belle Isle Park.
Nearly a thousand acres of nature trails interspersed with cultural resources, Belle Isle Park is home to more than 250 species of wild birds and an aquarium, to the oldest continuously-operated plant conservatory on the continent and a sandy beach, to a nature center populated by wild deer and a giant slide the kids will never forget (it’s a dollar a slide, though).
You can return many times a summer and never do the same thing twice.